Meet Osborne Macharia’s Club of Elite Little People Fighters

Digital photographer Osborne Macharia tackles dwarfism, often stigmatized in Kenya, in his latest conceptual editorial.

Kenyan architect by trade-turned-digital conceptual photographer Osborne Macharia has quite the imagination.

The Cannes Lions-prize-winner knows how to wrap fans around his finger with fictional, avant garde works such as Kabangu: Kenyan collective of eccentric hip-hop grandpas and Nyane: Kenya’s league of extraordinary grannies.

Macharia keeps us guessing with his latest editorial, capturing little people warriors of fanciful fight club network, Mengo, who brawl every month in an abandoned warehouse located in Nairobi, and as part of illegal fight clubs sponsored by former combatants around the globe. We meet four fighters Dudus, Sonko, Mrefu, Mangaritos, each with a unique backstory including exhaustive training since five-years-old, who form the elite Kenyan battle squad.

By focusing his photographs on “people of small stature,” often stigmatized in Kenya, Macharia makes it his objective to “portray them as this strong, energetic and vibrant people.” He along with his regular collaborator Kevin Abraham, who handled styling, props and production for this and previous narratives, partnered with Short Stature Society of Kenya (SSSK) to find their models. Each were responsible for picking their own character names. It was through this collaboration with SSSK that Macharia and Abraham were able to bring their larger-than-life vision to fruition.

"Traditionally if one was given the brief to photograph people living with dwarfism, it would be the same old direction of pity, disability and the need for help," Macharia says. "This was taking a different approach."

Marvel at Macharia’s fictional editorial below, and see how it all came to life in the video above.


Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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